Hearty Whole Grain Bread

Recipe courtesy of Liesbeth SmitHearty Whole Grain Bread

Makes 3 small loaves or 2 larger loaves (about 30 slices)

This hearty whole grain bread is a healthy and delicious alternative to packaged supermarket breads. The seeds and different types of flour add flavor, texture, and fiber, making a filling, satisfying loaf that is great for sandwiches or to go with salads.

The basic recipe consists of water, yeast, whole wheat flour, and salt. You can add more seeds or more types of flour, or trade one type of seed or flour for another, as long the final dough is not sticky. Vitamin C helps the yeast work better. Together with lecithin and pectin, it also keeps the bread fresh longer and improves the texture.

  • 4 cups of warm water (110–115°F)
  • 3 packets of dry active yeast (1/4 ounce each)
  • 1/2 cup whole grain buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole grain barley flour
  • 1 cup whole grain rye flour
  • 4–5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 grams of salt
  • Canola oil or canola oil spray, as needed

Seeds and Grains

  • 1 cup of ground flax seeds (grind them in a coffee grinder, or buy milled flax seeds)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 3/4 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran

Bread Enhancers

  • 2 crushed 500 mg vitamin C supplements (any store brand)
  • 1 tablespoon lecithin (can be found in a natural foods store)
  • 1 teaspoon pectin (can be found in a natural foods store)

There is no right or wrong when making this bread. In addition to varying the types of flour and seeds, you can vary both the baking time and the number of times you let the dough rise. Shorter baking time will yield a moister loaf; letting the bread rise two or three times will yield a lighter loaf.

Add 4 cups of warm water to a large bowl. Dissolve the yeast, and let it stand for a few minutes until bubbly. Add the bread enhancers (vitamin C,lecithin, and pectin) and stir. Then add the seeds, oats, and wheat bran and stir.

Add the buckwheat, barley, and rye flours to the water-yeast mixture, a half cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Then, add the whole-wheat flour one cup at a time, stirring, until the dough is dry enough to knead by hand. Make sure to mix in the salt with the last cup of flour, because adding salt will diminish the activity of the yeast.

Place the bread on a cutting board or counter top and start kneading: Fold the dough in half towards you and push away with the heels of your hands. Turn the dough one quarter turn and repeat the process for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and not sticky.

For the first rise, put the ball of dough in a bowl coated with oil (canola oil spray is very handy). To prevent drying, also coat the top of the dough with a thin layer of oil. Cover the bowl with a wet dish towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm environment until doubled in size, about 30  minutes. (Placing the bread in an oven with the light on works well. You can also let the dough rise on top of the oven as it is preheating.)

For a lighter-textured loaf, remove the dough from the bowl, fold the dough in half twice, and place it back in the bowl, covered, to let it rise a second time. After the second rise, deflate the dough by punching it gently. Carefully cut the dough into 2 or 3 equal pieces, and put each piece of dough in an oil-coated loaf pan.

Bake at 300°F for 45 to 60 minutes. When your kitchen smells like fresh baked bread and the bread is done, remove from the oven, turn the bread out of the pans onto a rack, and cool the loaves completely. This bread tastes great when it‘s toasted, and it is delicious served with hummus, guacamole, and chopped walnuts. The loaves also freeze well.

Nutritional information per 1 slice of bread (1/10 of a small loaf, 1/15 of a large loaf):

Calories: 150 ⁄ Protein: 6 g ⁄ Carbohydrate: 25 g ⁄ Fiber: 6 g ⁄ Sodium: 55 mg
Saturated fat: 1 g ⁄ Polyunsaturated fat: 3 g ⁄ Monounsaturated fat: 1 g ⁄
Trans fat: 0 g ⁄ Cholesterol: 0 mg

Liesbeth Smit (liesbeth_smit.jpg)

Liesbeth Smit has a MSc degree in Nutrition and Health and does research in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. She also assists with The Nutrition Source Web site.

For more information on natural bread enhancers, see Baking911.com.

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